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The Power of Play Dates for Mom and Baby

Author: Kate Hayes
Published Date: Thursday, December 15, 2016

Annabel loves other children. When she sees another child anywhere – the grocery store, Starbucks, the library or at a play date – she is ready to play. I know that interacting with her peers can teach Annabel things that I can’t, so play dates have become an important part of our lives. They help Annabel grow socially and learn new things while burning off some energy and sharing experiences with other kids.

At a mommy/baby gym class, Annabel and I made friends with another mother and a little boy two days older than Annabel. Every couple of weeks, the four of us find time in our busy schedules to meet at the park, aquarium or some other adventurous location. And, over the past few months, we have watched our children grow from babies to toddlers together. Yikes!

They used to sit in their strollers or on our laps and just check each other out. One of kids might coo or smile and eventually give a wave or try forming a word of sorts. Now they are both 16-months-old and starting to actually play together. They chase each other, give each other hugs and share all the fun things they pick up off the ground.

Through these play dates, Annabel is learning how to be a friend, and our time with this family is great for my sanity, too. I really rely on my wind-down time with another mother. It's great to have a sounding board for my frustrations and to know my experiences and concerns are normal. I need to hear about how her child also keeps tripping and bonking his head on the ground, or that he, too, has decided to boycott naps and scoff at foods he used to love. It's comforting to know that I am not the only one who looks forward to curling up with a book after her child goes to bed, but can’t get through the first couple of pages without falling asleep.

Watching Annabel and her friend run around makes me smile, and talking with another mom about successes and struggles rejuvenates me. Our play dates have turned out to be not only good for Annabel, but important for me as well.

Interested in learning more about the stages of play? Visit our Health Library. If you need help finding fun things to do on your play dates, visit MyActiveChild.com. Or if you're interested in a Mother of Preschoolers (MOPS) support group, find one in your area here.

I would love to hear how you and your friends support each other in parenting. Leave your comments below. Here's to friendship. Friends enrich our lives, no matter how old we are.

About Kate Hayes

Kate Hayes lives in Virginia Beach, VA and is a first time parent to Annabel – born on July 22, 2015. Kate is a yoga and aerial fitness instructor. She especially enjoys teaching on the beach, and is certified in laughing yoga, and prenatal yoga. Kate and her husband, Robert, enjoy spending time with their daughter and their two dogs.